FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. - May is National Foster Care Month.
It's meant to honor the selfless people who give a home to kids in need.
Sue Christenson and her husband, Chris, decided a long time ago that they wanted to be foster parents. A friend of their son was living in deplorable conditions, Christenson says, and they wanted to take care of him.
But Chris was in the military, they moved around a lot, and decided to wait to foster children.
Chris Christenson died before he and Sue could make that a reality.
Sue eventually retired as a widow. "I sat around telling myself how wonderful it was to be retired and not have a schedule. And after about a year I said to myself, this is crazy. I can’t sit around doing this," Christenson told FOX 5.
She could’ve done just about anything she wanted, but instead of spending her retirement on a beach and traveling: Sue chose unconditional love.
In the last 16 years, she’s fostered 23 children. This month, she was named Fairfax County's Foster Parent of the Year.
"To honestly feel that I’m making a difference in a child’s life. And what could be better in life than impacting somebody else’s life in a positive way?" Christenson said.
Most of her foster children are babies, some are from abusive homes. One had a feeding tube, and some are born addicted to drugs.
"These little guys didn’t deserve what they got. You can do something, you know, give them a snuggle, give them a toy to play with. Giggle with them, peek-a-boo. That’s joyful to me," she said.
"She is a person with a lot of love, and it gives her a place to focus that," Sue’s biological son Curt said.
Curt lives in Rockville and is supportive of his mother’s mission.
"We all go through tough times in life and just wish we had someone that would hold us and say ‘don’t know what came after, can’t say what’s going to come next, but this is where we are now, and we’ll get through this part of it.' And she does that," Curt Christianson said.
Sue says some of the kids still reach out to her.
She said she’s frustrated at the moment because of some health problems and she can’t foster any children right now. Some of her certifications are up soon, and she’s adamant she renews them so when she gets better, she can bring in another baby.